Things were “rolling” at Park Lanes in Newton, Illinois Thursday morning for Rural Development’s Road Show. This was our fifth Road Show where we shared how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) can help do what’s needed in rural communities. This time we met with “scores” of our east central Illinois neighbors at a restaurant and bowling alley where everyone “spared” no time in asking questions.
The amazing thing in Newton was the quality of ideas and the questions we heard, both during the presentation and when our specialists met informally with our guests to talk about things like building expansions and storm sirens.
In Round Two of our Road Shows (four previously held last November) we had something new to talk about…the ARRA funding set aside for public libraries. Illinois has a network of 641 libraries, and ARRA will make it possible to make repairs and improvements, expand or construct a needed new building, or buy the equipment needed to deliver services. We also added information about the second round of funding for Broadband deployment and the ”Know Your Farmer Know Your Food” initiative. By the time we got back to our offices, the phones were ringing with more questions about how we can help.
I want to thank Ken Larimore (Jasper Co.) and Barbara Webster (Crawford Co.) with the U of I Extension for their help, leadership and commitment to economic development. We also had support from Rosie Gibbons, director of Effingham County Extension. To the county board chairmen and members, mayors and city managers, and others who participated, thank you for taking the time to learn how USDA Rural Development can help improve your communities. We had a “striking” exchange at Park Lanes, and I look forward to “getting the ball rolling” in many area communities.
Submitted by Illinois State Director Colleen Callahan